Using 2 heaters

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Jason Collins

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So I currently have a 500w Finnex titanium heater with an Inkbird controller in my 93 gallon cube. I want to get a second heater to put in the sump as a backup. Since I have a cube I need a smaller sized heater for in my sump since I had to get a Trigger system cube sump I dont have alot of room to a big heater. Any suggestions on what kind of heater to get as a backup I can fit in my sump? Also do I have to buy a second controller as well? My Inkbird has a heater and chiller plug so I assume I cant plug a heater into the chiller part. I was also debating on waiting until I buy an Apex controller and plugging one heater into the apex and one into the inkbird controller. But im not sure if I should wait until I have the money for an Apex to throw in a backup heater. Should i just get a smaller heater with a dial and set it a few degrees under my good titanium heater.. so if my titanium one goes bad then my backup one kicks on even if it keeps it a couple degrees cooler? Not really sure how I should go about doing a second heater for my sump.
 
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mcarroll

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Depending on your plans, I suggest a heater of the correct size rating for the volume of water it's heating. So the display heater should be rated for around 90-100 gallons. The sump heater should be rated for 15 gallons or whatever you sump holds.
 

nautical_nathaniel

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The chiller plug on the inkbird turns on once a max temperature has been reach, so you definitely don't want a heater plugged into that.
 

ca1ore

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I have found that the best approach to heating is to have at least two heaters that in aggregate have 150% of the BTU needed. That way, one stuck on cannot cook the tank and one failed cannot freeze it. I'd not be comfortable with something as big as 500 watts on a 90 gallon tank.
 
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madweazl

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I run both my heaters off a single relay on the controller (y-cable used) and then set the heaters internal thermostat one degree higher than the controller is set to. If the controlled relay sticks in the on position, the heaters internal thermostat will turn it off, though a degree higher (in theory). This setup uses a heater that is smaller than required to heat the systems volume on its own, hence the requirement for two. The idea being that you have a little longer to respond to issues should they arise; if a smaller heater sticks in the on position, it will take a longer period of time to heat the water to a specific temperature. If a heater fails to turn on, the other can provide some heat so the water doesn't cool as quickly as if there were no heater at all.

As for your specific setup, I'd drop the 500w heater altogether. It is substantially larger than necessary unless you're needing to heat the tank 30°+ over ambient (unlikely). I think you'd likely be fine with a pair of 150w heaters; they're also considerably smaller (physically) than higher wattage heaters so you should have more placement options. You should be able to use a y-cable and plug those into the single Inkbird if you don't want the added expense of the additional controller but that comes at the cost of redundancy (you're reliant on the single controller not failing).

I'm not a fan of having heaters in multiple locations and prefer to have my temperature sensors colocated with the heaters (slightly upstream); in the event that water flow stops, the heaters wont unintentionally remain on (i.e. in the sump) because the temps sensors in the tank are reading a low temperature (now your tank is cold and your sump is cooking). Once you move to something with more capability (e.g. the Apex or equivalent controller), you can setup some if/then arguments so the above situation can be avoided using multiple temp sensors.
 
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mcarroll

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I like the different strategies here! :)

My setup sounds a lot like @madweazl's with the exception that I like the sensor to be in the display since that's the tank's temperature that I am more concerned about.

I keep my controller sensor in the always-flooded drain-box of the main tank, and (as mentioned earlier) with the heaters distributed with the tanks themselves....usually one per tank.

I don't know how "perfect" my placement is (there's a downside to everything,), but seeing a lot of options helps you see what's best (or wrong) with your own setup!

Love it! :)
 

ca1ore

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Well I bought the 500w because its rated for 70-130 gallon tank. Which mine is in the middle.

Maybe if you're running your tank in Siberia .... outside. Or Connecticut this week LOL.

I would also add that I run a number of individual apex temperature probes in my system (I wish Apex offered a multi heat probe module). I control my sump-based heaters from a probe in the display, but I also have a probe in the sump as a backup in the event that the main pump were to stop.
 

madweazl

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I like the different strategies here! :)

My setup sounds a lot like @madweazl's with the exception that I like the sensor to be in the display since that's the tank's temperature that I am more concerned about.

I keep my controller sensor in the always-flooded drain-box of the main tank, and (as mentioned earlier) with the heaters distributed with the tanks themselves....usually one per tank.

I don't know how "perfect" my placement is (there's a downside to everything,), but seeing a lot of options helps you see what's best (or wrong) with your own setup!

Love it! :)

Technically, I do roughly same. My primary sensor is in the overflow box of the DT and the secondary sensor is in the return chamber of the sump (two chamber after the heaters) but if I wasn't running a controller, the temp sensor would be in the same chamber as the heater. I have a third that reads ambient air temps so I know if the wife is getting crazy with the thermostat or leaving windows/doors open when they shouldn't be.
 
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I have 3 heaters 500W heaters for my system which has a total volume of 400G. Probably could get away with 2 of them, but I have a sump in my basement and it can drop down into the low 60's at night during the winter months.

I like multiple heaters for the sake of redundancy, then I just use the temp probe on my apex to regulate them.
 

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I run both my heaters off a single relay on the controller (y-cable used) and then set the heaters internal thermostat one degree higher than the controller is set to. If the controlled relay sticks in the on position, the heaters internal thermostat will turn it off, though a degree higher (in theory). This setup uses a heater that is smaller than required to heat the systems volume on its own, hence the requirement for two. The idea being that you have a little longer to respond to issues should they arise; if a smaller heater sticks in the on position, it will take a longer period of time to heat the water to a specific temperature. If a heater fails to turn on, the other can provide some heat so the water doesn't cool as quickly as if there were no heater at all.

As for your specific setup, I'd drop the 500w heater altogether. It is substantially larger than necessary unless you're needing to heat the tank 30°+ over ambient (unlikely). I think you'd likely be fine with a pair of 150w heaters; they're also considerably smaller than higher wattage heaters. You should be able to use a y-cable and plug those into the single Inkbird if you don't want the added expense of the additional controller but that comes at the cost of redundancy (you're reliant on the single controller not failing).

I'm not a fan of having heaters in multiple locations and prefer to have my temperature sensors colocated with the heaters (slightly upstream); in the event that water flow stops, the heaters wont unintentionally remain on (i.e. in the sump) because the temps sensors in the tank are reading a low temperature (now your tank is cold and your sump is cooking). Once you move to something with more capability (e.g. the Apex or equivalent controller), you can setup some if/then arguments so the above situation can be avoided using multiple temp sensors.

This is exactly how I have mine set up until I get an APEX. I have a 85g tank with a decent size sump and am running two 150w Jagers in my sump hooked up to the inkbird with a y splitter to the heating side. I have a cheap clip on fan plugged into the cooling side clipped to the sump just in case. The temp probe for the inkbird Is in the return chamber of the sump (right before the water goes into the filter pads).

*note I do live in Phoenix. My house in the summer months is kept literally within 1 degree of my tanks set temp, so the heaters really don’t have to work very hard for 3-4 months if not longer just because right before and after summer it’s beautiful and I don’t generally have to run AC or heat. During the coldest months it can get fairly chilly at night but during these few months I keep the house heated at a minimum of 70degrees, so worse case is about a ~8 degree F difference from tank temp to house ambient temp during that time. If you live in my home state of Minnesota and your tank is in the basement, you will need to use your best judgement in that scenario.
 
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Jason Collins

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This is what the website said so that's why I bought the 500w heater. I've had it for like 6 months so far so its not like its new and I can just send it back. So I might as well just keep using it. I thought 500w seemed like alot but when I was ordering it this was the graph they gave so I thought maybe the titanium heaters didn't put out as much heat so it needed a higher watt for the tank.

I live in a Bi-level house so my downstairs is half below ground level which is where my tank is.. It is always cooler down there that it us upstairs. Never buy a bi-level home! It sucks trying to heat and cool it.

upload_2018-1-4_13-8-16.png
 
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SonoranReefer

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This is what the website said so that's why I bought the 500w heater. I've had it for like 6 months so far so its not like its new and I can just send it back. So I might as well just keep using it. I thought 500w seemed like alot but when I was ordering it this was the graph they gave so I thought maybe the titanium heaters didn't put out as much heat so it needed a higher watt for the tank.

I live in a Bi-level house so my downstairs is half below ground level which is where my tank is.. It is always cooler down there that it us upstairs. Never buy a bi-level home! It sucks trying to heat and cool it.

upload_2018-1-4_13-8-16.png

I would for sure go with what the maker of your heater recommends for your situation. I just love the redundancy of using a controller as heaters from what I have read are one of the most common failures in our reef systems that can have detrimental effects in a short amount of time.
 

ca1ore

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I wasn't doubting you - just seems excessive to me. By comparison, across my main system of about 600 gallons, I run a total of 1,400 watts to keep the water approx. 12 degrees F above ambient. One 500W Finnex and then three 300W EJ. I do have a second Finnex still in the wrapper just in case.
 

mcarroll

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This is what the website said so that's why I bought the 500w heater. I've had it for like 6 months so far so its not like its new and I can just send it back. So I might as well just keep using it. I thought 500w seemed like alot but when I was ordering it this was the graph they gave so I thought maybe the titanium heaters didn't put out as much heat so it needed a higher watt for the tank.

I live in a Bi-level house so my downstairs is half below ground level which is where my tank is.. It is always cooler down there that it us upstairs. Never buy a bi-level home! It sucks trying to heat and cool it.

upload_2018-1-4_13-8-16.png

Have you checked to see if yours really pulls 500w when running? Seems like a bizarre amount of wattage for such a small system so I almost wonder if it's just a nominal rating? (Never heard of such a thing with heaters though.)

Certainly seems like a 500w heater would be more likely to cook your system if it sticks in the on position for any reason.
 

madweazl

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Pair of 150w Visi-therm heaters on a 74g volume system (75 display with 30g sump). They have no issues sustaining the set temp with a 15.5° degree delta from ambient at night. I couldn't say with any certainty that they could heat a 90g system as evenly but I suspect it would be fine.
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ReeferBob

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There really is no need to run the heaters at different temperatures. Run them the same. BTUs added to the water are BTUs added to the water. Also is not necessary to run a heater separate in your DT. One benefit of a sump is to hide equipment. Why would you want a big ugly heater in your DT when it can go in the sump?

I would also bite the bullet and get a full-blown controller for the heater. Perhaps it is time for the Apex. When heaters fail the usually fail in the on position.
 
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